Final, Magic 96-94: Rasheed Wallace got a great look there but missed badly and the Celtics suffer a damaging loss.
Up 16 in the third quarter and 14 with under 11 minutes to play, they cough up another late lead. This one stings a bit more because in just over 17 hours they have to take on Atlanta, which is 3-0 against Boston this season.
The Magic got a ton of good looks in the fourth as the dominant defense the C's had had against them for the past seven quarters simply disappeared.
It's a quick flight and a restless night before the Hawks game, which we will be following for you. The Celtics are 4-4 in the second half of back-to-back games, but this will be a stiff test.
Fourth quarter, 1.3 seconds, Magic 96-94: I may not need to remind anyone, but just in case, the Celts have succeeded in this situation before. Remember Miami last month?
Fourth quarter, 1.3 seconds, Magic 96-94: After Paul Pierce does a phenomenal job of keeping the ball from Vince Carter, Rashard Lewis gets a step on Kevin Garnett and there is nobody to help out as Lewis goes in unopposed for a layup.
Lewis had little problem getting around a gimpy Garnett.
Fourth quarter, 14.8 seconds, 94-94: And just like that the momentum is with the Magic. J.J. Redick hits a huge 3-pointer to tie it and after a Ray Allen miss, Orlando can play for the last shot.
Fourth quarter, 51.5 seconds, Celtics 94-91: What a huge turnaround here in the last minute. The Celtics are making every big play with the game on the line, while the Magic look lost right now.
Rajon Rondo hits a bank shot to make it a three-point game. That's five straight points for Boston after Orlando took the lead.
Fourth quarter, 1:04, Celtics 92-91: Vince Carter basketball.
Seconds after returning from a long rest, Carter has one shot blocked and then later turns the ball over on the same possession, with Rajon Rondo getting the loose ball after a big strip by Rasheed Wallace.
Fourth quarter, 1:21, Celtics 92-91 : An absolutely ill-advised lob pass thrown by J.J. Redick leads to an easy takeaway for the Celtics and a mammoth 3-pointer by Paul Pierce on the other end.
That pass was never there for Redick, although the shot clock was running down. Still, you hate to see such an easy giveaway if you are an Orlando fan.
Credit Pierce for making the Magic pay.
Fourth quarter, 3:16, 87-87: Paul Pierce with a strip on one end and two free throws on the other calms things down a bit for the Celtics.
Fourth quarter, 4:31, Celtics 85-84: J.J. Redick will have a chance to put the Magic ahead for the first time all game when he goes to the line for three free throws after the commercial break.
It seems as if the Magic are suddenly finding a ton of space on the perimeter to get off the 3-pointers they love to take. Much of that has to do with Dwight Howard taking control of the paint and the Celts needed to help out on that end.
Orlando has made 4-of-9 from long range in the second half and Redick obviously drew a foul on the club's latest attempt.
And while the Magic are adding to that total, the officials keep taking away from the Celtics. Twice now, Eddie House has had a 3-pointer changed to a two-point basket after review.
Fourth quarter, 5:00, Celtics 84-82: Another offensive rebound, Orlando's 17th, leads to a 3-pointer by Rashard Lewis.
Lewis was the one who out-muscled Rasheed Wallace for the board.
Fourth quarter, 6:36, Celtics 82-77: Eddie House with a monstrous shot, burying a 3-pointer after the Magic had trimmed the deficit to two points.
Fourth quarter, 7:24, Celtics 79-74: The C's will be shooting free throws the rest of the game after a flurry of Orlando fouls. Kendrick Perkins, however, has missed three straight from the line, the only three foul shots all half for Boston.
Perkins also has five fouls.
Fourth quarter, 8:40, Celtics 77-72: Magic coach Stan Van Gundy has to wonder where his team would be if it had not missed 13 free throws already.
Fourth quarter, 9:41, Celtics 75-69: Every time the Celtics get the lead up to 14 or 15 the Magic get a few baskets in a row and make it a game again.
This time it's Jason Williams doing the damage for Orlando, which has scored eight straight on a pair of Williams 3-pointers and two free throws by Marcin Gortat.
The Magic got within six in the third as well but were unable to get any closer.
Fourth quarter, 11:20, Celtics 75-61: Eddie House's 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter was changed to a two-point basket, but he starts the fourth with a legit 3-pointer to make up for it.
End of third quarter, Celtics 73-61: One of the more awkward fast breaks you will ever see results in an Eddie House 3-pointer with 1.5 seconds left, a huge shot that caps a quarter-closing 7-1 run for the Celtics.
House and Tony Allen were practically stepping on one another running up the left side of the court, where Paul Pierce lobbed a pass hoping one of them would grab. Allen did and just flipped it back to House in the corner.
The Celts are 11-of-22 from the arc.
For a moment this had the look of another lost third quarter as Boston's 16-point lead was dwindled down to six before you knew it, but the closing run keeps the Green in control.
Third quarter, 1:27, Celtics 68-60: This is shaping up to be a shooting contest between two former Seattle Supersonics stars, as Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis are doing the bulk of the damage on the offensive end.
Lately, however, it's been more Lewis than Allen and the Magic are on a 9-2 run.
Third quarter, 3:34, Celtics 66-56: Rashard Lewis scores five straight points to pull the Magic within 10 again.
One of his baskets was Orlando's first 3-pointer since J.J. Redick made one with 1:15 left in the first quarter.
Third quarter, 5:00, Celtics 66-51: Rasheed Wallace now has four fouls as he tries to contend with Dwight Howard. Howard has been unable to make the Celtics pay from the line, making just 1-of-6, but he may have them shorthanded down low if things continue like this.
Third quarter, 6:23, Celtics 61-51: Rasheed Wallace checks in for Kendrick Perkins, who goes out with his fourth foul.
Third quarter, 6:52, Celtics 58-47: Suddenly seven straight points for the Magic, who are finally getting to the rim a bit here in the second half.
Third quarter, 8:39, Celtics 58-45: Dwight Howard now has three baskets in this one and all three have come on short right-handed hooks. Kendrick Perkins gave him plenty of room on the last one, not wanting to pick up another foul.
Ray Allen just missed for the first time.
Third quarter, 9:59, Celtics 56-40: We are more than 26 minutes into this one and still waiting for Ray Allen to blink.
Allen hits his third 3-pointer and improves to 7-of-7 overall to force the Magic into an early timeout.
Interesting to see Allen go off the day two more of his teammates get All-Star nods.
Third quarter, 11:01, Celtics 51-40: Underway in the second quarter and it's more of the same for Orlando as it has two bad misses to start things off.
Halftime, Celtics 51-40: Orlando entered this one ranked first in the league in 3-pointers made and attempted and seventh in 3-point percentage at 36.1.
But it's the Celtics who are owning the perimeter thus far. Rasheed Wallace has hit all three of his 3-pointers and Ray Allen has hit both of his, part of a 7-of-11 effort for Boston.
Orlando, meanwhile, is just 1-of-10 out there. Safe to say that's the biggest difference in this one.
Back in a bit to see if the Celts can avoid the second-half swoon.
Second quarter, 25.6 seconds, Celtics 51-38: All five Celtics touch the ball before Ray Allen hits his second straight 3-pointer, capping a beautiful possession.
Allen has made all five of his shots and has 12 points.
Did anyone just see that woman have a drink spilled on her behind Reggie Miller? Kinda funny.
Second quarter, 1:56, Celtics 48-38: Who needs Dwight Howard?
Marcin Gortat is all over the place underneath for the Magic, recording his third block and two deflections on one Celtics possession alone.
Unfortunately, Gortat cannot be everywhere and is no factor as the Celtics hit back-to-back 3-pointers to break out of a long drought.
Did Reggie Miller just say Brian ScalabrinO?
Second quarter, 4:13, Celtics 42-36: As I mentioned earlier, the one big concern for the Celtics has to be the offensive boards, and it just reared its ugly head again as Orlando got a pair of chances before cashing in. The Magic, who have nine offensive rebounds, are on a 7-0 run and Boston's offense has disappeared.
The C's have had just one shot actually get to the rim in the last 3:41. All this with Dwight Howard on the bench.
That does not bode well.
Second quarter, 5:39, Celtics 42-33: Twice in two possessions Kevin Garnett has scooped a pass underhand and without looking to Glen Davis, but neither have connected. They were almost too good for Davis to handle.
Davis, however, has Boston's only two points in the last 4:03 as the offense has begun to sputter a bit.
Second quarter, 7:30, Celtics 42-31: I'm beginning to think Kendrick Perkins and Dwight Howard have some sort of agreement in this one. They are now both on the bench with three fouls after Howard picks up No. 3 some 28 feet from the basket.
If neither are a factor going forward the advantage goes to the Celtics as Rasheed Wallace can step in just fine. He has 13 points already to lead all scorers.
Second quarter, 9:00, Celtics 40-29: Kendrick Perkins has been much better this season about keeping his fouls to a minimum, but not against Orlando.
He just picked up his third foul and is forced to the bench again. When these two teams first met in November, Perkins had five fouls by the third quarter and argued the last one, picking up a technical.
Doc Rivers didn't even bother putting him back in after that.
Second quarter, 10:20, Celtics 37-27: Eddie House drills a 3-pointer to give the C's a 3-of-4 showing from beyond the arc.
House is playing point out there with the two Allens, Glen Davis and Rasheed Wallace, an interesting lineup for Doc Rivers.
End of first quarter, Celtics 34-23: Aside from a burst by Jameer Nelson, there was not much for the Magic to hang their hat onto in the first quarter, and the credit can go to the Celts.
Boston forced seven turnovers, leading to 10 points, and held everyone but Nelson to a combined 2-of-11 from the floor.
There were a total of five technical fouls in the first quarter, two on defensive three-second calls.
If the C's have a concern it could be on the boards. Even with the league's leading rebounder, Dwight Howard, spending much of the quarter on the bench, Orlando controlled the rebounding battle and have the game's only four offensive boards. Boston has been outscored 68-25 in second-chance points over the last five games.
Certainly something to keep an eye on.
First quarter, 2:02, Celtics 26-16: A 10-3 run for the Celtics is highlighted by a bullet pass from Rajon Rondo to Paul Pierce, a delivery that buzzed past four Magic defenders.
Plays like that can only be carried out by guys who know each other well, as those two do.
First quarter, 3:09, Celtics 22-16: Rasheed Wallace picks up his league-leading 12th technical foul after screaming for a foul on a basket.
Wallace has seven early points and plenty to say about it.
First quarter, 4:26, Celtics 16-13: Jameer Nelson is blowing up for the Magic, who were dormant until their point guard got it going.
It started innocently enough with a pair of free throws by Nelson, but he added eight more points on a pair of layups and two short jumpers.
Nelson's counterpart, Rajon Rondo, missed three straight shots in the same span.
First quarter, 6:29, Celtics 11-5: An ugly start sees Kendrick Perkins now benched after he also picks up a second foul.
The Magic have four free throws and one basket in six minutes.
First quarter, 7:23, Celtics 10-3: Dwight Howard is sent to the pine early after picking up his second personal foul.
It's been an uneven start for Howard, who has made just 1-of-4 free throws but has two blocked shots (see defensive note below).
First quarter, 7:57, Celtics 10-3: Paul Pierce and Matt Barnes are slapped with technical fouls after the pair come together and Pierce gives Barnes a shove.
Barnes had taken exception to a somewhat hard foul by Pierce on Dwight Howard.
First quarter, 8:00, Celtics 10-3: Dwight Howard, who just recorded the Magic's first basket and then picked up his first foul, is playing a roving style of defense. He is laying off Kendrick Perkins completely and doubling other players or coming in on the weak side.
It should yield a few extra blocks for the NBA's leader in that category, but he just lost Perkins a possession ago and sloppily fouled him, leading to two free throws for Kendrick.
First quarter, 9:36, Celtics 6-1: Ray Allen with four quick points and the Magic call an early timeout, having just one Dwight Howard free throw to show for the first two-plus minutes.
Remember, Orlando scored just 27 points in the first half the last time these two teams met, including a paltry eight in the second quarter.
First quarter, 9:53, Celtics 4-0: Nice to see the Magic sporting those old school Shaquille O'Neal/Penny Hardaway-era uniforms, as ugly as they are.
The uni's haven't done much for their offensive game early, as Orlando has missed its first three shots and a free throw.
First quarter, 11:55, 0-0: We are underway in Orlando after the requisite "Welcome to the Jungle" is blared over the Amway Arena loudspeaker (do any arenas NOT play that song before a game?).
It's a pair of 29-win teams who have had plenty of hiccups of late. Perhaps tonight will signal something going forward.
Keep an eye on minutes played for the C's. They play at Atlanta on Friday with an earlier start time and have four games in five days overall.
7:40 p.m.: Starting lineups are in from Amway Arena with no surprises on either side.
The Celtics, the lone NBA team with three All-Stars in Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, start those three along with Ray Allen and Kendrick Perkins.
The quintet enters 108-29 as a starting five.
Orlando goes with Jameer Nelson and Vince Carter at guard, Matt Barnes and Rashard Lewis at the forward spot and All-Star Dwight Howard underneath.
Howard told reporters earlier that he intends on being a bit more aggressive against the Celtics after a pair of rather lackluster efforts thus far, at least on the offensive end. In two meetings with Boston, Howard has a grand total of three baskets on 11 shots. He does have 35 rebounds and seven blocks but the Magic, who have averaged just 80.0 points against the C's, could use a bit more scoring from the big man.
7:15 p.m.: An hour before tip we get confirmation of what we already had heard as Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo receive spots as reserves on the Eastern Conference All-Star team.
For Pierce, it is his eighth All-Star selection in what has been his grittiest season yet, as he has battled through knee pain and has been forced to carry the C's at times while others struggle through injuries and inconsistency.
Neither of those factors have come into play for Rondo, however, as the little man gets his first All-Star berth at the age of 23. Rondo ranks third in the league in assists per game and first in steals while averaging a career-high 14.2 points per game.
Congrats to both, who join Kevin Garnett on the squad. Garnett was voted in as a starter but there has been word that he would sit the game out to rest his balky right knee.
3:42 p.m.: Celtics coach Doc Rivers has called it "The Gauntlet " — a challenging stretch of games that begins Thursday night, when Boston meets Orlando on national television.
On the heels of this third meeting of the season with the Magic comes a Friday night contest in Atlanta and a Sunday game at home against the champion Los Angeles Lakers, a trial for a Celtics squad slowly getting back to health.
Boston is 2-0 since Kevin Garnettreturned from a right knee injury and showed flashes of its early-season dominance in a 95-89 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday. Paul Pierce scored 22 points and Garnett had seven of his 17 down the stretch as the C's erased an early nine-point deficit.
The victory helped to put an ugly 4-8 stretch further in the rearview mirror, a span that started after Boston and Orlando last met in Amway Arena on Christmas Day. In that contest, the C's looked nothing like a unit that was on the verge of a major slump as they suffocated the Magic in an 86-77 victory.
Orlando shot 33.3 percent and had a dismal seven turnovers against 18 assists. It scored a grand total of 27 points in the first half, perhaps a precursor of things to come.
The Magic are just 7-8 since and have fallen to fourth in the Eastern Conference. Despite 27 points and 15 rebounds by Dwight Howard, Orlando fell at Memphis on Monday night.
Boston, which is expected to get Brian Scalabrine back after a two-game layoff to deal with a shoulder injury, is a league-best 16-6 on the road. The Magic are 16-4 at home.
We'll be tracking all the action right here. Tip for this TNT affair is set for just after 8:00 p.m.
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